Easter Monday is the day after Easter Sunday and is celebrated as a holiday in some largely Christian cultures, especially Roman Catholic cultures. Easter Monday in the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar is the second day of the octave of Easter Week. In Poland and parts of the United States, Easter Monday is called Dyngus Day.
Formerly, the post-Easter festivities involved a week of secular celebration, but this was reduced to one day in the 19th century. Events include egg rolling competitions and, in predominantly Roman Catholic countries, dousing other people with water which traditionally had been blessed with holy water the day before at Easter Sunday Mass and carried home to bless the house and food.
In the Eastern Orthodox Church and those Eastern Catholic Churches which follow the Byzantine Rite, Easter Monday is known as Bright Monday or Renewal Monday, and is the second day of Bright Week. The services are exactly the same as on Pascha (Easter Sunday), except that the hymns from the Octoechos are in Tone Two. It is customary to have a Crucession (procession headed by a cross) either after Paschal Matins or after the Paschal Divine Liturgy. It is customarily a day for visiting family and friends.
In Poland, traditionally, early in the morning boys awake girls by pouring a bucket of water on their head and striking them about the legs with long thin twigs or switches made from willow, birch or decorated tree branches (palmy wielkanocne); however, the earliest documented records of Dyngus Day in Poland are from the 15th century, almost half a millennium after Poland adopted Christianity.
Benedykt Chmielowski in Nowe Ateny cite after "Carolo Berthold" that this ritual was already in custom in 750, 250 years before Poland officially adopted Christianity.
One theory is that Dyngus originates from the baptism on Easter Monday of Mieszko I (Duke of the Polans, c. 935 - 992) in 966 AD, uniting all of Poland under the banner of Christianity. Dualism and "twins" are featured in Slavic pre-Christian paganism. Dyngus and Śmigus were twin pagan gods; the former representing water and the 'moist' earth (Dyngus from din gus - thin soup or dingen - nature) and the later, representing thunder and lightning (Smigus from Śmigać or to making a whooshing sound). In this theory, the water tradition is the transformation of the pagan water god into the Christian baptism. The custom of pouring water was an ancient spring rite of cleansing, purification, and fertility. It is alleged that the pagan Poles bickered with Nature/Dyngus by means of pouring water and switching with willows to make themselves pure and worthy of the coming year. Others have suggested that the striking tradition is the transformation of the ritual "slap" of Christian confirmation. However, still others suggest that the Smigus tradition is actually simply a youthful recapitulation of a Good Friday Polish tradition, in which parents wake their children with switches from twigs, whispering the words of a Lent prayer "the wounds of God" or "God is wounded" -'bozerani''.
Early in the Colombian evolution of the tradition, the Dyngus custom was clearly differentiated from Śmigus: Dyngus was the exchange of gifts (usually eggs, often decorated like pisankas), under the threat of water splashing if one party did not have any eggs ready, while Śmigus referred to the striking.
Later the focus shifted to the courting aspect of the ritual, and young unmarried girls were the only acceptable targets. A boy would sneak into the bedroom of the girl he fancied and awaken her by drenching her with multiple buckets of water. Politics played an important role in proceedings, and often the boy would get access to the house only by arrangement with the girl's mother.
Throughout the day, girls would find themselves the victims of drenchings and leg-whippings, and a daughter who was not targeted for such activities was generally considered to be beznadziejna (hopeless) in this very coupling-oriented environment.
Most recently, the tradition has changed to become fully water-focused, and the Śmigus part is almost forgotten. It is quite common for girls to attack boys just as fiercely as the boys traditionally attacked the girls. With much of Poland's population residing in tall apartment buildings, high balconies are favorite hiding places for young people who gleefully empty full buckets of water onto randomly selected passers-by.
Another related custom, unique to Poland is that of sprinkling bowls (garce) of ashes on people (starts men on women) or houses, celebrated a few weeks earlier at the "półpoście." This custom is almost forgotten, but still practiced on the area around borders of Mazuria and Masovia.
Also, splashing water, and a special handmade whip decorated with ribbons called pomlázka (Slovak: korbáč) is used on females in the morning. The boys usually accompany the whipping with a special Easter carol and then are given a decorated hard-boiled egg (a ribbon, or possibly a snifter of liquor). The girls would reward the boys who sprinkle with coins or Easter eggs. In the afternoon, females can douse males with cold water. In some other parts of Slovakia boys use water or perfume to splash the girls and then girls whip boys on Tuesday.
Along with Good Friday, Easter Monday is a public holiday in historically-Protestant countries such as Germany, Denmark, Sweden and certain British Commonwealth countries such as Australia. Good Friday and Easter Monday are Bank Holidays in the United Kingdom and in Canada, making a four-day weekend.
Traditionally Polish areas of the country such as Chicago observe Easter Monday as Dyngus Day. In the United States, Dyngus Day celebrations are widespread and popular in Buffalo, New York, Wyandotte, Michigan, Hamtramck, Michigan, La Porte and South Bend, Indiana. Wet Monday is also celebrated at Jonathan Edwards College, one of the residential colleges at Yale University, when each year the freshman class storms the college with water weapons, where upperclassmen are ready to defend the college and ensure no one goes home dry.
Although Dyngus Day was celebrated in traditional Polish Buffalo neighborhoods dating back to the 1870s, modern Dyngus Day in Buffalo had its start with the Chopin Singing Society. Judge Ann T. Mikoll and her late husband Theodore V. Mikoll held the first party at the Society's clubrooms on Kosciuszko Street on Buffalo's Eastside. The success of the Chopins' Dyngus Parties during the 1960s led to other Dyngus dances on the Polish Eastside including those at the Broadway Grill, the Warsaw Inn, the Polish Singing Circle and at the New York Central Terminal. Chopins left the Eastside in the 1980s and moved out to new clubrooms in Cheektowaga where the festival attracted a new generation. In recent years, the focus of Dyngus Day in Buffalo has returned to the Historic Polonia District in the form of large parties at Central Terminal, St. Stanislaus Church, the Adam Mickiewicz Library and at many family owned Polish taverns. The World's First Dyngus Day Parade, which makes its way through the Polonia District, was inaugurated in 2006. In 2008, the parade attracted over 25,000 people.
In 2006, two time Grammy Award nominated Polka Band Jerry Darlak & the Touch recorded the “Everybody’s Polish on Dyngus Day” polka. “The polka is meant to capture the uniqueness of the Buffalo Dyngus Day celebration,” explained the song’s composer Ray Barsukiewicz. “Lyrics include references to pussy willows, the sprinkling of water, polka dancing and parties that last until daylight. Also in 2006, Lenny Gomulka and the Chicago Push released the "Dyngus Day in Buffalo Polka" the recognized Buffalo's time-honored traditions. Gomulka is regarded as one of the nation’s premiere polka stars with 11 Grammy Award nominations to his name. In 2007, the world’s oldest working fireboat, the Edward M. Cotter, received the honor of being named, the "World's Largest Dyngus Day Squirt Gun.” “This could explains why the Cotter is painted red & white,” said Marty Biniasz, Founder of Dyngus Day Buffalo alluding to the colors of the Polish flag and the Cotter’s current livery. “It’s only right that The Dyngus Day Capital of the World should have the World’s Largest Squirt Gun. We are proud to now make Buffalo’s most loved ship part of our Dyngus Day Buffalo tradition.” As the world's oldest working fireboat, the Cotter was built in 1900.
Robert F. Kennedy's 1968 appearance was marked by his downtown rally attended by a crowd of over 6,000, his participation in the Dyngus Day parade, and his leading of the crowds at the West Side Democratic Club in the traditional Polish well wishing song Sto Lat (phonetic: 'sto la') which means "100 years". Indiana was RFK's first primary and first primary victory, which set in motion momentum and victories that would have led to his nomination as the Democratic Party candidate for President had he not been assassinated.
Starting in 2004, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Indiana began celebrating Dyngus Day at the request of South Bend students. The event includes free Polish sausage for students as well as a free concert.
In Egypt, the ancient festival of Sham El Nessim (Arabic: شم النسيم, literally meaning "smelling of the air") is celebrated on the Coptic (i.e. Eastern) Easter Monday, though the festival dates back to Pharonic times (about 2700 BC). It is celebrated by both Egyptian Christians and Muslims as an Egyptian national holiday rather than as a religious one. Traditional activities include painting eggs and eating fish that has been buried underground.